Much of the productivity-boosting potential of BIM for transforming the AEC industries has been inspired by the use of digital mockups in the manufacturing and aerospace industries. Lately, engineering and construction companies have been inspired by the possibilities for improving infrastructure projects by adopting many of the same tools being used in architecture.
This trend was at the heart of a recent session at BIM World. Jonathan Riondet, AEC industry solution technical director for Dassault Systèmes, presented the applications for BIM beyond buildings during a roundtable discussion in conjunction with representatives from engineering companies EGIS and SYSTRA.
Riondet has helped clients develop BIM solutions for infrastructure using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which doesn’t create a distinction between architecture and infrastructure—it’s one single platform with different modules that address the needs for both.
The challenge, however, is that the IFC standards have not yet caught up to this surging interest.
buildingSMART, the international home of open BIM, is working to develop IFC standards for infrastructure alignment—but forward-thinking civil engineers want more.
Standards are critical for collaboration, Riondet pointed out.
In many cases, engineers and contractors are adapting IFC data as there has not yet been pressure on the IFC standard to develop interoperability for bridge, highway, roads, and other infrastructure projects.
In markets like China, for example, construction practices move rapidly and technology tools must keep apace.
Riondet noted that Dassault Systèmes’ Chinese infrastructure clients in particular have been challenging the status quo by pushing for IFC standards outside the building scope.
This push is starting with the use of tools for the alignment of infrastructure. It is also being extended to the engineering and construction of bridges, rails, tunnels, dams, and more. Infrastructures are demanding a solution not only for a bridge structure, for example, but also for the complete infrastructure project delivery.
As a result, Riondet said he is seeing customers use solution like 3DEXPERIENCE to develop specifications for how IFC for a bridge would be described.
In fact, Riondet mentioned one design group with which he has worked for five years that has been using BIM solutions for building bridges and highways, from design through a level of detail for fabrication.
Infrastructure and Smart City concepts, as those in Singapore and Rennes, are a natural extension for BIM from its use in buildings.
But to harness the full value of BIM, infrastructure engineers and contractors need the same level of interoperability and seamless continuity between model iterations.